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Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight

Score: 70%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: EA Games
Developer: EA Los Angeles
Media: Download/1
Players: 1 - 2; 2 - 10 (Online)
Genre: Real-Time Strategy

Graphics & Sound:

I have to at least give credit to EA for trying something different with Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight. Long-time fans will recognize series stand-bys like Mammoth Tanks, NOD and FMV cutscenes, but the play mechanics are completely different. There's no resource management, fewer structures and not as many units on the field. Following the trend set by other games in the genre, Tiberian Twilight moves away from base building, instead focusing on small-group mechanics. The new system provides a few interesting moments, it isn't able to maintain the momentum thanks to limiting micromanagement elements.

Tiberian Twilight doesn't play like other C&C games, but it certainly looks the part. Even when pulled out at full zoom, units are huge and feature loads of details. The look has a more "cartoon-y" look (as opposed to the more realistic look of past games), but it really helps things stand out against the backgrounds and during the rare hectic battle.

Where Tiberian Twilight falls short, however, is presentation. B-rate acting has been a trademark for the series; the more over-the-top, the better. Although you'll see plenty of FMV cutscenes, most of the humor is gone. Rather than going for the series' trademark camp, there's a noticeable attempt to go for something more dramatic and serious. The choice is a bad one. Scenes are generally awkward and lack the charm of previous games.

At least the game's score picks up slack and manages to add a grand sense of scope, even when the gameplay can't deliver.


First off, Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight is always online. Even when playing through the single-player campaign, you have to sign on to the game's online portal. In other words, if you can't get online with the game, you can't play. It's a cruddy trend in PC games that in all likelihood is here to stay and as much as I don't like it, at least there's an attempt to have it make sense in the grander scheme of things. The series has always done a great job of creating a "you're there" atmosphere, so jumping into what looks like a high-power military network is awesome, especially when you can easily communicate with members of the in-game community. At the same time, it's a bit unreasonable to expect every player to be able to get online at all times. I get the need for strong DRM, but this might be a little too much.

After a short tutorial, Tiberian Twilight gives you the opportunity to follow Kane and join NOD or join GDI. As with other games, you can go back and play through the opposing campaign and get a different feel for the story by playing through the same mission, only under different circumstances. Compared to past games, missions are much smaller in scope and design.

Rather than offering a massive battlefield and opportunity to build a sprawling base, everything is limited to a mobile base (called Crawlers). Crawlers are limited to one at a time and can be one of three combat roles: Offense, Defense or Support. Each type can create different units and if you want to switch types, you first need to scrap your current one. During single-player missions, this isn't much of an issue; you can usually get by with your original choice. In multiplayer, it places a lot of emphasis on team strategy and makes better sense.

Multiplayer is Tiberian Twilight's element and one of the few times the gameplay feels right. Combat roles are more intriguing and make more sense when playing with (and against) human players. There's more of a chess game going on between players. Multiplayer is limited to one mode, Domination, which plays a lot like the command point control modes found in shooters. Keeping your units near a command node generates "points" until one team reaches a set score. Matches are incredibly dynamic (when played right, that is) and it isn't uncommon to scrap your Crawler mid-game in response to what's going on.


Even on Hard, the single-player A.I. will make a couple of incredibly stupid decisions, but matching wits is the least of your issues. The absolute worst thing about Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight is you're required to earn use of units by essentially grinding experience. On the plus side, you'll earn points across all of the game's different modes - so you're always progressing - but it makes the early game incredibly hard.

Tiberian Twilight is a game of paper-rock-scissors. Every unit counters another and has its own counter. When you first start, you're limited to a few units while the A.I. has access to nearly everything. It's like playing a game of Rock- Paper-Scissors-Spock-Lizard, but you can only use Paper and Rock while your opponent can use everything. Without access to appropriate counters, you're screwed in battle. The A.I. helps negate some of these advantages, but it can be a game killer in multiplayer.

Game Mechanics:

Crawlers can flip between mobile and immobile modes. Your Crawler can build units at any time, but the only way to get them out is to set the Crawler to immobile. The basic idea is to constantly switch between the two modes as you navigate around the battlefield. The idea isn't too far off of the concepts used in Dawn of War II, only the fast gameplay and RPG elements are replaced with somewhat cumbersome micromanagement. As a result, the entire mode feels restrictive with few exciting moments. Even when pushing through mission goals, there's no sense of forward progress.

Units are determined by your Crawler's combat role. Offense gives you access to powerful units while defensive offers towers and infantry that can jump into bunkers. Support offers air units as well as the ability to repair and use special tactics. In single-player, its rare you'll use anything other than offense or defense, but during multiplayer matches, you'll find yourself constantly jumping between roles. Dropping a new Crawler doesn't take too long and you can easily churn out new units as long as you have enough command points. Each unit costs a certain number of points, with bigger units costing more than smaller ones.

The population cap is restrictive, so you rarely have more than a handful of units under your command. It also creates an ever-shifting battlefield dynamic as you nuke your current army and build a new one in response to your opponent's strategy. It makes for a few fun battles, but also contributes to the plodding feel of battles and lack of progression.

Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight offers a fascinating twist on the series and I commend EA for taking such a drastic approach. However, the changes feel more like a response to what's going on in other games rather than doing what is right for the series. The revamp might appeal to newer players, but will more than likely come as a letdown to long-time fans.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

Minimum System Requirements:

Microsoft Windows XP (SP3) / Windows Vista (SP1) / Windows 7; Intel Core 2 Duo / AMD Athlon 64 X2; 1 GB (XP) / 1.5 GB (Vista / 7); 8X DVD-ROM Drive / Digital Download; 10 GB of free Hard Drive Space; 256 MB VRAM - DirectX 9.0 Compatible with Pixel Shader 3.0 Support; Direct X 9.0c

Test System:

Windows 7; 1.6 GHz Dual-Core processor; 2 Gig RAM; DVD drive; 120 GB HDD; GeForce Go7600; Direct X 10

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Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated